Coastal and Tropical South

November, 2009
Regional Report

Root Crops

Beets, turnips, and carrots can grow in our regions, and planting time begins this month. Sandy soils may need extra trace element fertilizer. Heavy soils may need a "boost" -- raised beds or garden soils well-amended with ground bark -- to give them room. Be sure to thin seedlings to 3 inches apart. It may be hard on your heart to pull the babies up, but toss them in a salad and give the rest room to grow.

Dried Decorating

Hydrangeas may still be in bloom, or dried to crispy paperlike flowerheads. Both can be part of indoor decorating without water. Fresh hydrangea flowers will dry indoors, but slowly, their natural colors fading to light tan. Spray gold paint on already dried blossoms to put a glow in fall arrangements. Use a very light touch to apply glitter glue to hydrangea heads for a really unusual effect.

Gourd Crazy

Snakes, swans, and apples aren't always what you'd expect. Fall brings gourds with these names in addition to classic dipper and birdhouse types. Use fresh gourds for decorating all fall; keep out of direct sun. Like pumpkins, harvest fresh gourds with 3 inches of stem attached for longest shelf life. Ideally, you'll lay the gourds on a piece of wire mesh suspended so air circulates all around the gourds to dry them. Keep them out of full sun and don't let them freeze.

Sow Some

After a nice rain, when the daytime temperatures have moderated just a bit, get started sowing seeds for wildflowers like coreopsis, coneflowers, and rudbeckia. Don't bury these too deeply, just be sure they make good contact with the moist soil. Mulch lightly and look for seedlings in about a month. Choose areas that stay drier for coreopsis and rudbeckia; let coneflowers start where the soil stays slightly moist.

Sweet Potatoes

Few of us grow sweet potatoes, but we love to eat them. And we should, for their fiber and high levels of beta carotene. Buy a box or two now for best flavor, and store them yourself in a dark, indoor closet. Cold sweet potatoes lose sugar when exposed to heat, light, or refrigerator conditions. There are many steps between the farm and your kitchen, and later in the season, store bought sweet potatoes may not be their sweetest.

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